The Academy award-winning American actress and writer RUTH GORDON died on this date (b. 1896). She was best known for her films roles such as the over-solicitous neighbor in Rosemary’s Baby and the eccentric life-loving Maude in Harold and Maude. In addition to her acting career, Gordon wrote numerous well known plays, film scripts and books.

Harold and Maude is a cult classic movie directed by Hal Ashby in 1971. The film, featuring slapstick, dark humor, and existentialist drama, centers around the exploits of a morbid young man — Harold — who drifts away from the life that his detached mother prescribes him as he falls in love with septuagenarian Maude.

The film is number 45 on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Funniest Movies of All Time, and number 42 on Bravo’s 100 Funniest Movies. In 1997, it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. It is particularly noteworthy as having an enormous and zealous cult following.  The film was a commercial failure when it was released and the critical reception was extremely mixed. The screenplay upon which the film was based was written by Gay writer, COLIN HIGGINS, based on his M.F.A. thesis, and published as a novel in 1971. The movie was shot in the San Francisco Bay Area. Harold and Maude was also a play on Broadway for some time. The movie has given rise to two new words: “Harolding” (hanging around cemeteries) described by Douglas Coupland in “Harolding in West Vancouver” (1996); and “Maudism” or “Maudianism”, the philosophy of living each day to the fullest.